Aha, Aha! Right Rope For Your Blog

Deanos Vino
At a wine-tasting event at Deano’s Vino a couple of weeks ago, I got to try some very fine wines and sample some tasty cheeses.  My friends and I were then treated to an entertaining, informative mini-lecture by Deano, the proprietor of this fun Fountain Square, Indianapolis eatery.  As a teacher and speaker myself for so many years, and now as a ghost business blogger, I especially enjoy seeing ways in which other speakers and writers use words to convey ideas and information to an audience. 

Somewhere in the middle of his short talk, Deano (who manages to be quite funny while still being serious about his topic) alluded to Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood character in Men In Tights. Deano wanted to bring out that, when a customer finds a product or service that’s the exact right thing for him or her, it’s as if a light pops on. You need to get the customer to say “Aha!” just the way Robin Hood said “Aha, Aha! Right rope!” as he climbed a rope to make his escape.

Your business blog should be designed to elicit that same kind of “Aha” response.  Remember, your potential customer is searching on the Web for a product, a service, or for information. Like Robin Hood, the customer’s moving fast, browsing the Internet, using a search engine, scanning rather than reading.  You’re hoping for an “Aha!” response, because if the “light pops on”, that browser will want to find out more about you and your business. By offering a “content-tasting” on your blog, and doing that regularly and frequently, you’ll have put Search Engine Optimization to work for you and your business, converting tasters – to buyers.


Who Really Writes The Songs That Make The Young Girls Cry?

Country Music picture As a business ghost blogger for hire, I take an interest, not only in the work of colleagues in that small but growing profession, but also in the doings of “ghosts” in other fields.  Take country music, for example (being a square dancer these many years has bred in me a love for country tunes). The relative importance of lyrics versus melodies in songs of any type can be debated, but you’ll have to admit that, with country songs, storytelling and “plays on words” constitute a big part of almost all the best-loved country songs’ special appeal.

Leafing through Southwest Airlines’ Spirit magazine on a recent trip, I came upon an entire feature story about Nashville, Tennessee country music stars and the songs that made them famous.  Writer Elaine Glusac comments, “The truth in this town and a secret to most music fans is that songwriters, not performers, are largely responsible for those storytelling songs about love, Grandma, whiskey, and divorce.”   Unlike on the coasts, where soloists write their own material, she explains, “in Nashville it’s the writers who feed the stars”.

Writing, adds Glusac, is generally acknowledged to be an individual sport.  But, in Nashville’s culture, they work as a team. “It’s called co-writing”, she explains.  Now, isn’t that exactly true, I thought, about the way in which a business uses a ghost writer to bring its message and tell its story to as many customers and clients as possible using the power of the Internet?  When I think about it, it’s uncanny how similar a good blog is to a good song.  The best country songs, explains the Spirit article, are short and powerful.  “When you’ve got so few words to deliver the emotional punch, each word must be laden with meaning.” Ditto and then some for blogs!

For those who can’t get to Nashville to hear lyrics sung to steel guitars, more than two thousand U.S. radio stations bring country music to 56 million listeners per week.  The amazing thing is, the World Wide Web can put your business in touch with an audience even bigger than that.  You gotta know when to blog ’em, is all!


Spin A Basketball – Or A Blog

Leafing through Southwest Airlines’ Spirit magazine during a recent flight, I came upon a “How To” feature by Harlem Globetrotters veteran Kevin Daley. (I stopped to read that page in detail, recalling our family tradition, years back, of taking the kids to see the Globetrotters on Thanksgiving Day.)  “Special K” Daley was instructing readers on how to get a basketball whirling, one of the team’s trademark tricks.According to Daley there are four steps to the basketball spin, and I was struck by the fact that every one of those steps could be applied to the “spin” in a web log (blog). 

First, says Special K, “Set the ball”.  Position the ball with the lines vertically and prop it up on your fingertips in front of your body. In an earlier blog,  I explained that business bloggers need to keep a specific target audience and goal in mind. Then, the blog can address that target audience and work on achieving that specific marketing goal. basketball

Second, says Daley, “Tilt and whirl”.  Raise the ball to chest level, then twist your wrist to get maximum torque. It’s the same with blogs.  Remember, a blog is not an ad.  You’re providing information with a particular slant or twist that showcases your expertise in your field or the special qualities of your product.

Next, according to Special K, you need to “Poke with power”.  Let the ball go, and it will hover in the air briefly.  You can then catch the ball on your fingertip.  Each time a new post is put on your business blog, even if it’s recent, and even if you’ve posted frequently, it won’t make the customer want to go further and meet you on your website unless the blog entry’s got power and punch!  You must drive readers to want more.

Lastly, advises Daley (and this is the one that really, crucially, applies to blogging), “Stick with it”.  Don’t expect to succeed the first time  or even the tenth, in basketball spinning, he advises.Keep it up, and you’ll soon be doing it all day long.  Search engine optimization through blogging is never a matter of overnight success.

Before your blog gets noticed by search engines, it has to be”recent and frequen”.  You have to provide relevant material, and keep providing material again and again, for your blog to get moving closer towards the top of the search lists.  Then, you have to keep your blog there, spinning, telling your business story to all your potential clients and customers.

My special thanks to Special K.  He probably has no idea he was providing tips any ghost blogger can use!


But A Ghost Blogger Can PLAY One!

Alan Alda, as he’d be the first to admit, never went to medical school (although he did address the 1979 commencement at Harvard Medical School).  But as Hawkeye on M.A.S.H., Alda helped millions of viewers understand the crucially important role medics play in wartime.  Pat Dempsey, playing Grey’s Anatomy’s Doctor Derek Shepherd, at least has four sisters who are real-life doctors.   Perhaps that explains why, without any medical training himself, Demsey is able to very effectively convey to viewers the realities of hospital medicine. Andy Griffith, through his role on Matlock, offered a glimpse into the legal world without ever having attended law school.  All three actors, like many of their colleagues in the acting profession, successfully helped viewers identify in a favorable way, not with themselves and their own profession, but with the character they’d adopted, and with that character’s profession.

While the doctors or lawyers who have credentials for real-life practice bring healing and legal recourse to hundreds, even thousands of patients and clients, few have the potential for their message to reach millions.  In a sense, the actors are their “ghost” portrayers, reaching out to viewers on their behalf, offering valuable information and breeding respect for the professions of law and medicine.

As a ghost writer and ghost blogger, I’m sometimes asked how we do it.  How can we ghost bloggers write for business owners and professional clients without being trained in those fields ourselves?  It takes two things:  research and good hearing.  A ghost blogger uses a ‘third ear” to understand what the client wants to say and to pick up on the client’s unique slant on his/her business or profession. 

In these days of Internet commerce, marketing is more and more about search engine optimization driving business to websites than about billboards and advertising.  Blogging can be an absolutely indispensable tool.  But, since web rankings are based on frequency of posting new content, often business owners and professionals, even if they enjoy writing blogs, lack the time to keep up enough frequency and recency to win the Internet search.

So, while I may not be a doctor, a lawyer, an auto mechanic, a telephone technology expert, a travel guide, a gourmet chef, or a  tax expert, as a ghost blogger, I can still play one! 


Ghost Bloggers Pied Pipers In Reverse

As a professional writer, I derive pleasure out of a nicely turned phrase, a “word tidbit”, if you will.  In an earlier blog,  I shared one nice tidbit used by The New York Times to report on high food prices.  Then, just the other day, I read another really great word tidbit in the Journal of FInancial Planning (I retired from a financial planning career, but still keep up on continuing education).

A short item about affluent investors’ loyalty to their original financial planners was titled “Advisors No Pied Pipers”.  The writer presented a survey showing that only 33% of clients would follow their advisor to another firm. I confess I hadn’t thought about the pied piper story since grade school, but this title immediately brought into my mind a picture of the Pied Piper, bells on his pointed cap and pipe in his mouth, prancing ahead of an army of rats, leading them away from the town.  In just four words, the writer was able to make me think about the whole story.  And, using just the right words to evoke an image, I reflected, is exactly what we ghost bloggers try to do! 

In the case of blogging, of course, I’m after the reverse Pied-Piper effect, trying to lead customer to my client’s website.  Through search engine optimization techniques, including using key words, posting frequently, and providing relevant content, the blog “pipes” itself towards the top of the search list and then “pipes” customers right to the website  After all, when it comes to web-based communication, words, along with pictures, are a business’ only “music”.

Closing my copy of the Journal of Financial Planning, I thought: Now, that’s what a ghost blogger does for a living – makes music in order to make business happen.  Please excuse me while I sew bells onto my cap!